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Baltimore County Democrats recommend Del. Shelly Hettleman to fill vacant Maryland Senate seat

Members of the Baltimore County Democratic Party have announced their choice to fill a vacancy in Maryland’s General Assembly.

Maryland state Del. Shelly Hettleman on Thursday night was recommended by members of the Baltimore County Democratic State Central Committee for the District 11 Senate seat.

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District 11 Sen. Bobby Zirkin stepped down from the office this month after he announced his resignation in December.

Hettleman obtained four out of five votes from the committee members representing District 11, which includes neighborhoods in northwest Baltimore County, such as Pikesville, Owings Mills and part of Timonium. She faced off against Del. Jon. Cardin of Owings Mills and Alan Zukerberg, a community activist and president of the Pikesville Communities Corporation.

Hettleman, 55, of Pikesville, was the lead sponsor of legislation requiring law enforcement to test nearly all rape kits in Maryland after the backlog of untested rape kits in 2016 grew to more than 6,500. The Houston native told The Baltimore Sun last month that if she receives a Senate seat, she hopes to push for funding of school construction and implementation of the Kirwan Commission’s recommendations to improve public schools, among other issues.

A small group of committee members based in each district are tasked with voting for their respective representative when a vacancy opens due to a resignation. The full committee still needs to vote Tuesday night to formally consent to the appointment recommended by the district committee.

Once the full committee votes, the recommended candidate for the position will be submitted to Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, who has the final authority on filling these positions. Once he officially receives the nomination, he has 15 days to make the appointment.

The political party committee that holds the vacant seat has 30 days to submit recommendations to the governor. Hogan cannot propose his own candidate. If the committee fails to act within the deadline, however, the governor has 15 days to appoint a person from the party that last held the seat.

The person appointed to the seat serves for the remainder of the unfilled term.

Members of the committee are also scheduled on Saturday to interview and vote on their choice to fill the District 44B House of Delegates seat. Del. Charles Sydnor was recently appointed by Hogan to become a senator for District 44. Sydnor will finish the term of Shirley Nathan-Pulliam, who resigned due to health reasons.

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